Mitt Romney: The vague campaign

With the country’s economic recovery on the skids, Romney should be outstripping President Obama in the polls.

Mitt Romney is “slowly squandering a historic opportunity,” said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. The country’s economic recovery is on the skids, and by all rights, the Republican challenger should be opening a sizable lead over President Obama in the polls. But Obama still leads in key battleground states—because Romney is running such a muddled campaign. He’s attempting to “coast to the White House” simply by saying “the economy stinks and it’s Obama’s fault.” How would Romney govern differently? Why is it important to shrink the government, cut taxes, and reduce the deficit? Romney isn’t saying, said William Kristol in Voters know the economy is bad, and you don’t beat an incumbent president with a wholly negative—and maddeningly vague—campaign. “Is it too much to ask Mitt Romney to get off autopilot?”

If Romney wants a chance of winning, said Jonathan Chait in, he should ignore this “conservative caterwauling.” When conservatives say they want more specifics from Romney, “what they really want is a different candidate and a different electorate.” They assume Americans will prefer a candidate who promises to further cut taxes for the rich, while hacking away at Medicare and other government benefits, and making people pay more for their health care. “But that’s not what the public wants and Romney knows it.” Making this election a referendum on Obama gives him his best chance of victory. It’s generally smart politics to keep it vague on the campaign trail, said Adam Sorensen in Running on “hyper-specific policy platforms” not only gives opponents a target, it boxes candidates into a corner if they’re elected.

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